Nearly 400 Cops Failed At Uvalde | Crooked Media
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July 17, 2022
What A Day
Nearly 400 Cops Failed At Uvalde

In This Episode

  • None of the 400 law enforcement officials on location at the Uvalde mass school shooting in May did anything for over an hour to stop the gunman who eventually killed 21 people, mostly children. That’s according to a new report released by Texas officials on Sunday.
  • Patients around the country are reportedly having medical care delayed or denied over concerns from doctors and hospitals. Those providers fear that treating some pregnancy-related medical emergencies would run afoul of the abortion bans that have gone into effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
  • And in headlines: fighting continues in Ukraine for control over the eastern Donbas region, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline changed its phone number to 9-8-8, and Senator Joe Manchin dashed Democrats’ hopes of fighting climate change.


Show Notes:



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Erin Ryan: It’s Monday, July 18th. I’m Erin Ryan.


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice, and this is What A Day, shouting out the completion-ists who are getting the Novavax vaccine after already receiving doses of the big three.


Erin Ryan: I feel like, there are so many vaccines to choose from now it’s like, why not just build a walk in closet in your immune system with room enough to accommodate all of them? On today’s show, there are new reports of doctors around the country refusing to provide medical care out of fear of violating abortion bans. Plus, a congressional climate bill goes up in flames because of Joe Manchin.


Josie Duffy Rice: Shocking. But first, almost 400 police officers and other law enforcement officials were on location at the Uvalde mass shooting in May, according to a new report that Texas officials released yesterday. But for over an hour, as the gunman killed 21 people, including 19 children, none of those 400 officers did anything to stop him.


Erin Ryan: Oh, my God!


Josie Duffy Rice: I know. It’s unbelievable.


Erin Ryan: How does the story keep getting worse?


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s true.


Erin Ryan: Every new thing, it’s terrible. Josie, tell me more about this report.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s actually just so depraved on every level. So this is an 80-page report–it’s technically a preliminary report–and it was released by the Texas House Investigative Committee yesterday. It contains a number of devastating, if not particularly surprising, findings, such as that, quote, “No one assumed command” despite scores of officers being on the scene, and that the head of a Border Patrol tactical team waited for a bulletproof shield and classroom master key–which likely wasn’t even necessary. Also, the report makes clear that it wasn’t just the local Uvalde police who failed that day. So, in fact, most of the 400 cops on site weren’t actually local police at all. 149 were from the U.S. Border Patrol, 14 from the Department of Homeland Security, and 91 from the Texas Department of Public Safety. The report found that, quote, “The entirety of law enforcement and its training, preparation, and response, shares systemic responsibility for many missed opportunities.”


Erin Ryan: There’s useless, and then there’s, like, worse than useless.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yep.


Erin Ryan: And law enforcement was worse than useless here. A lot of those departments you mentioned criticized the local police. Isn’t that correct?


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. That’s kind of like the irony here and just like, part of which makes it so crazy, right? I mean, a lot of the criticism in the days after the shooting came from people like the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, who previously criticized the school district police for not going inside. But his department, which is basically like the state police, had more equipment, were better trained than the school district police, there were 91 of them there, and they didn’t go inside either.


Erin Ryan: Oh, my God. To that point, I know there was a lot of finger pointing in the days after the shooting. Did the report find that there was anyone in particular to blame here?


Josie Duffy Rice: No. And in fact, the report went out of its way to say there wasn’t just one person to blame. It said, quote, “The committee did not find any villains in the course of its investigation. There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives. Instead, we found systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making.”


Erin Ryan: Hmmm. Counterpoint. They’re all villains. All of them.


Josie Duffy Rice: Exactly. Exactly. Right.


Erin Ryan: All of them are villains. Have there been any consequences for any of the officers or officials.


Josie Duffy Rice: Before this one officer was on leave–Pete Arradondo, he was the Uvalde School District Police chief. He had been roundly criticized for his handling of the situation, including the time he spent trying to find a key to the classroom, which probably didn’t even need a key. And after the report was released yesterday, there was yet another person placed on leave, Mariano Pargas, who is the acting chief of the Uvalde Police Department. But other than that, nothing. It’s worth noting the report does not make any direct recommendations that people face consequences or lose their jobs, saying that they leave that up to each law enforcement department–but given the fact that no one has lost their job yet and only two people have even been placed on leave, it just doesn’t seem like a very effective way of ensuring those officers are not put in charge of keeping people safe ever again.


Erin Ryan: Okay. So thought experiment. Okay?


Josie Duffy Rice: Yes.


Erin Ryan: Let’s say that there was a banquet hall, right? There’s a banquet hall and it’s having a big banquet, right? 400 people work at the banquet hall and their job is to get out there and get people food. That’s the only thing that they’re supposed to be doing. And none of the 400 people bring any food out to the people in the banquet hall.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right.


Erin Ryan: I feel like people would be fired.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right, 100%.


Erin Ryan: For being bad at working in food service, which is their job.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right, right.


Erin Ryan: Now when you’re in like public service and public safety, and you are one of 400 people called on to provide or promote public service, public safety–


Josie Duffy Rice: And you do nothing.


Erin Ryan: You do nothing.


Josie Duffy Rice: That children, we’re talking about third-graders and you just stand there. You know, one of the words they use in the report is “lackadaisical” which is the last thing anybody should be in face of a mass shooter in a child’s classroom. Lackadaisical. I mean, my God.


Erin Ryan: Yeah. It’s such a catastrophic failure at all levels. And another thing that I just wanted to flag really quickly–I don’t think anybody’s going to–but I think somebody should face consequences for all of the lying that was aimed at the public.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right.


Erin Ryan: You know, it’s not just that these police officers were not doing their jobs, it’s that there are people who were trying to make it seem as though the fault was somehow with the people in the school, or that the officers were trying, and that also seems egregious and on a secondary level.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. I mean, they basically were just trying to do like personal PR in the face of like a devastating massacre. We’re just so used to it at this point, right? Like we’re just so used to police not doing their job when they need to, or overreacting in other situations, and then lying to us. Like, it just feels like part of the job. And it really should not be.


Erin Ryan: No, I feel like that’s the opposite of the job. That is the thing that the job should not be, if there is anything–it’s like this is what policing is and this is what it should not be.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right.


Erin Ryan: The should-not-be has become the whole job.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right.


Erin Ryan: So has there been any reaction from the families to the report?


Josie Duffy Rice: Well, at least one family member was disgusted by the report’s finding. Vincent Salazar, grandfather of 11-year old Layla Salazar, who died in the massacre, said right after he got his own hands on the report, quote, “It’s a joke. They’re a joke. They’ve got no business wearing a badge. None of them do.”


Erin Ryan: Sums it.


Josie Duffy Rice: Up. Yeah, that pretty much says it all. We’ll post a link to some good local stories on that report in our show notes.


Erin Ryan: Turning to another story, the post-Roe world is here, and it sucks!


Josie Duffy Rice: It really sucks.


Erin Ryan: It sucks. According to recent reporting by various outlets, as well as groups like the Texas Medical Association, patients around the country are already having medical care delayed or denied over concerns from doctors and hospitals that treating some pregnancy-related medical emergencies would run afoul of draconian abortion bans that have gone into effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned. This is exactly what reproductive justice advocates warned would happen and anti-choice voices swore wouldn’t happen.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s kind of shocking that the reproductive justice advocates were right, isn’t it?


Erin Ryan: Yeah, the people who have been right at every phase of this devolution continue to be right.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, isn’t that weird?


Erin Ryan: But also, you know, abortion bans don’t save babies. They put everybody who can get pregnant in harm’s way.


Josie Duffy Rice: That’s right.


Erin Ryan: When the Supreme Court overturned Roe back on June 24th, under the guise of leaving the question of reproductive freedom up to the states–which, let’s pause for a second: that is crazy. Let’s put reproductive care in the hands of the states. A terrible idea.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Absolutely horrible.


Erin Ryan: So putting it in the hands of the states ensnared people across the country in a confusing spider web of bans and restrictions and court battles. A handful of states had bans, and restrictions immediately take effect. Other states had laws on the books written to go into effect in a matter of days or weeks after the then-theoretical overturning of Roe. And still other laws pre-dating the ruling are caught up in legal battles at the moment. But we’re already seeing the effects on patients, and they’re not good.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, they’re dystopian, they’re horrible. They are unimaginable. So there were several reports over the weekend about people being denied care, sometimes in life-threatening situations. We’re going to link to some of those stories in our show notes. But Erin, which one stood out to you?


Erin Ryan: In Wisconsin, one woman who was suffering an incomplete miscarriage bled for ten days because doctors wouldn’t remove the non-viable tissue from her uterus because Wisconsin’s abortion ban wasn’t written carefully enough to provide exceptions for this kind of care.


Josie Duffy Rice: My God. And that’s part of the reason for that is because these abortion bans were written basically to get political points, right? These are people who didn’t really think about what this would actually mean in practice. They weren’t careful with what they were writing. And now people are going to die.


Erin Ryan: Yes, people are going to die. People are suffering. Like, in Michigan one woman checked yourself into the emergency room after suffering from an ectopic pregnancy. Her regular doctor was worried that treating the life-threatening condition would land them in legal trouble, because although it’s physically impossible for an ectopic pregnancy to be viable, the embryo had detectable cardiac activity.


Josie Duffy Rice: My Gold.


Erin Ryan: And in Texas, the state’s medical association said just a few days ago that hospitals are delaying care for things like miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies due to the state’s abortion ban. In other places, doctors already have to jump through hoops, prescribing medications that can be used in the abortion process to patients who need them for totally different reasons. So it’s bad out there already, immediately, less than a month after Roe was overturned.


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s horribly predictable, and was avoidable. It seems that a lot of these laws were not written with a lot of nuance or understanding of what abortion is and how it can be medically necessary. Would you say that’s correct?


Erin Ryan: It’s absolutely correct. Abortion is medical intervention that ends a pregnancy. It’s still abortion regardless of the intent or circumstances of the person receiving it. So whether or not you go skipping into the abortion clinic or you’re wheeled into the ER on a gurney, it is an abortion. It is an abortion if it ends a pregnancy.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right.


Erin Ryan: So the way a lot of the states wrote their bans doesn’t take into account the fact that abortion is the treatment for things like ectopic pregnancies and incomplete miscarriages. And it leaves health care providers vulnerable to legal trouble. They’ve snapped into what’s known informally as CYA mode.


Josie Duffy Rice: Okay, so what’s CYA?


Erin Ryan: CYA means cover your ass. People are absolutely terrified of getting sued.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I mean, it makes sense. It’s really terrifying if you’re a doctor. But what’s really kind of keeping doctors from, like, openly defying these bans and just doing what’s best for their patients.


Erin Ryan: Right. So punishments to doctors could be severe. There’s a lot of question marks here. We don’t know what it’s going to look like when people go after doctors who provide this care. Whether they’re going to be fined six figures, whether they’re going to lose their licenses, whether they’re going to be thrown in prison. However, there are some whispers in medical ethics and legal circles that providers could fight back by claiming that they conscientiously object to abortion bans. But in order to do that, they need the stomach to withstand a drawn-out legal battle that could take years, and also probably be willing to go to jail.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I mean, it’s a huge risk and then they have to weigh that against like, can they be helpful to more people by not providing care to this one person? I mean, you suddenly start doing this level of calculus that ends in people’s deaths, right? It’s just a nightmare. And in the meantime, pregnant people are needlessly suffering. So thanks for that information, Erin. And as a reminder, we’re going to put a link in our show notes to Vote Save America’s resource Fuck Bans Action Plan. There you can donate to organizations who are fighting to keep access, take part in the political fight locally, and more. And that is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Erin Ryan: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Erin Ryan: Fighting is continuing in Ukraine for control over the eastern Donbas region. Russia is taking control of dozens of Ukrainian towns and villages in this area. And early yesterday, Russian missiles hit industrial and civilian areas in Mykolaiv, a strategic southern city near the coast. Russian forces have targeted it throughout the war in an effort to cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea. Russia also amped up its ground attacks over the weekend to push toward Odessa, another port city. Meanwhile, there has been turmoil within Ukraine’s government. On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired two top officials–the head of the Ukrainian security service and Ukraine’s prosecutor general–who have been investigating war crimes. Zelenskyy said he lost faith in their abilities. And on top of that, more than 60 employees from both offices were also fired. He accused the workers of collaborating with Russia and said all of these individuals will be held accountable.


Josie Duffy Rice: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline officially changed its phone number over the weekend to a simple three-digit dial code: 988. The initiative was previewed last year by federal officials. The idea is to provide an easy to remember alternative to 911 for people experiencing a mental health crisis. A friendly reminder that there are risks to using the national lifeline, as call centers have been known to trace callers locations, and in some cases report them to local police who aren’t always helpful. So just be sure to make an informed choice if you are thinking of calling in.


Erin Ryan: That is great information. The man who inherited the proud political tradition of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown, Senator Joe Manchin–we call him Maserati Joe. He drives a Maserati.


Josie Duffy Rice: I know.


Erin Ryan: We don’t talk about that enough.


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s so aggressive.


Erin Ryan: It’s so aggressive. And also, just like trying too hard, it just bleeds with effort, you know.


Josie Duffy Rice: Right, right.


Erin Ryan: Anyway, Maserati Manchin dashed Democrats hopes of fighting climate change yet again late last week. After weeks of negotiations, the coal-crazed, quote unquote “moderate” shot down a bill that would pump more money into clean energy, among other things. In response, President Biden promised on Friday to use executive action to tackle the climate crisis. He hasn’t given more details about how that might look, but in the meantime, some Democrats are using this as an opportunity to roast Manchin–good, roast him.


Josie Duffy Rice: Please.


Erin Ryan: Here’s Bernie Sanders yesterday on ABC’s This Week:


[clip of Sen. Bernie Sanders] When Manchin sabotages climate change, this is for future generations. What’s going on right now in the West, all over the world, we’re looking at more and more heat waves. You can look at more droughts, more flooding. This is an existential threat to humanity.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, to say the least. And Maserati Manchin is in our way. Speaking of heat waves, Western Europe is in the middle of a historically bad one. On Friday, the British government declared its first-ever national heat emergency, where temperatures could climb as high as 107 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of the country tomorrow.


Erin Ryan: What?! That’s too hot.


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s too hot, especially in the UK. Meanwhile, wildfires have intense heat in France, Portugal, and Spain have forced thousands of people to evacuate in recent days.


Erin Ryan: A preview of what’s coming on TV’s hottest courtroom drama, The Insurrection Hearings: the January 6th House Committee said yesterday that it will soon receive text messages exchanged by Secret Service members on January 5th and 6th of 2021 that were reportedly erased. The existence of these texts was made known to the public last week, thanks to the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog. Notably, the watchdog said that most of the messages were erased after he asked to see them. A spokesman for the Secret Service disputed this claim, positing that the texts were lost before they were requested. By his telling, the agency didn’t backup its phone data before resetting all of its phones the month of the attack. Anyway, it seems like since then the Geek Squad was called and the texts were recovered, and following a subpoena on Friday, Committee members said they expect to get their hands on them by tomorrow–Liz Cheney Nation Take note. Oh, my gosh. Liz Cheney Nation, imagine. Do they have t shirts? Because I do not want to hang out with them. Anyway, Liz Cheney Nation, take note. The Committee’s next public televised hearing is set for Thursday. How does the Secret Service not understand InfoSec?


Josie Duffy Rice: This was a literal storyline on Veep, and this whole episode really not giving us a lot of faith in law enforcement I would say, top to bottom.


Erin Ryan: Watch better TV’s Secret Service.


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s all very bad. From Let’s Get loud to let’s get listed on the same health insurance: Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were married this Saturday in Las Vegas nearly 20 years after they broke off their first engagement in 2003. Jenny from the Block is now Jennifer Affleck from the Block, according to legal documents. And what was once J.Lo could soon become J.Aff–doesn’t flow as well but, you know, love makes you do crazy things. In her newsletter, the pop star described how she and Ben stood in line with four other couples to get married. She added, quote, “Stick around long enough and maybe you’ll find the best moment of your life in The Tunnel of Love drive-through with your kids and the one you’ll spend forever with.”  I like that message better than the like, “give a second chance to the person you dated 20 years ago” message because that wuld not work out well for me.


Erin Ryan: Yeah. I don’t even like that thought experiment. Speaking of love making you do crazy things, changing your last name is objectively a huge pain in the ass.


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s so hard! No one ever tells you this. It takes so much time and space and effort.


Erin Ryan: I didn’t. I didn’t because I was just like, I love my husband, but I don’t paperwork love anybody, you know?


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. It’s a nightmare.


Erin Ryan: And those are the headlines. That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, let’s get loud, and tell your friends to listen.


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading, and not just on deleted texts like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Erin Ryan: I’m Erin Ryan.


[together] And thanks for upholding Democracy, Geek Squad.


Erin Ryan: I didn’t think it would be the Geek Squad that was like the last line between us and anarchy, but we got it.


Josie Duffy Rice: We got it.


Erin Ryan: Thanks, guys. Good job.


Josie Duffy Rice: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producer is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.